Source: RG 331 Box Box
921 Affidavit of Sgt Jesse L. Stewart, USMC; 30 Jan 1947
Transcribed by: Roger Mansell,
Director, Center For Research
I, Master Technical Sergeant Jesse L. Stewart, 255182, USMC,
being duly sworn depose and state:
My home address is McKinnon, Wyoming. At the present time I am
attached to Marine Aviation Detachment, U.S. Naval Training Center,
Ward Island, Corpus Christi, Texas. I enlisted in the United
States Marine Corps on 19 October 1936 and have been in continuous
service since that time. I was captured by the Japanese forces
at Wake Island on 23 December 1941. On Wake Island I was a member
of the Marine Aviation Detachment. I was held in the following
Prisoner of War Camps:
Wake Island from 23 December 1941 until 12 May 1942.
Transported from Wake Island to Yokohama, Japan aboard the ASAMA
MARU thence by train to Zentsuji, Shikoku Island, Japan.
Zentsuji Prisoner of War Camp from 18 May 1942 until 17 January
Tanagawa Prisoner of War Camp from 17 January 1943 until 21 May
Umeda Bunsho, Osaka City from 21 May 1943 until 21 May 1945.
Tsuruga Prisoner of War Camp from 21 May 1945 until 11 September
1945 at which time I was repatriated.
I was at Umeda Bunsho, Osaka Branch Prisoner of War Camp from
21 May 1943 until 21 May 1945. About the latter part of 1944,
2nd Lt, Motoo Namba, Imperial Japanese Army, came to this camp
as Camp Commander.
Lt. Namba was very lax in his control over the guards of the
camp and allowed them to treat the Prisoners of War exactly as
they wanted. He did nothing to help us as far as camp conditions
were concerned. About the time of his arrival we received a shipment
of Red Cross parcels. Lt. Namba and his staff ate Red Cross food
from them on (sic) and I have seen Lt. Namba, Mariyama, a gunsoko,
Shimayoshia, a gunsoko, and Shinya, a gunsoko pack Red Cross
food out of the camp. I have also seen the entire camp staff
smoking American Red Cross cigarettes.
On Christmas day of 1944 Lt. Namba issued each Prisoner in camp,
318 in all, a full food parcel. He then had the American Camp
Commander, Zemo Tarnowski and the office force come through the
barracks and each man had to give something out of his Red Cross
box as a present to the Japanese Camp Staff.
He held a shakedown inspection of the barracks about once each
month and on these inspections he and his staff would take anything
they desired from the gear of the Prisoners of War, whether it
be food, clothing, cigarettes, or other items. Lt. Namba knew
we were stealing food and other essentials out at the railroad
yards where we were working. He did not stop us from doing this
but made certain he and his camp staff were well supplied with
anything a Prisoner of War could steal.Many beatings took place
in this camp, both individual and mass beatings. Lt. Namba never
interfered with these beatings, but seemed to approve of them.
These beatings were numerous and it is impossible for me to remember
them all but I will list some of them that I can remember.
In November of 1944 Japan started being bombed by B-29 airplanes.
Each time, after an air raid, at evening or morning muster each
man calling out "29" when we counted off would be beaten.
I cannot remember each instance of this kind but it happened
about 5 or six times. I do remember one case distinctly, on the
night of 13 March 1945 Osaka was subjected to a very heavy incendiary
raid. On the morning of the 14th of March at the morning muster
every man answering to No. 29 was severely beaten by the guards
holding tenko (Muster).
In or about April 1945, K.C. Turner, U.S. Navy had contracted
a mild case of dysentery. As his detail was lined up in front
of the gate waiting to be admitted to the camp, Turner had to
go to the latrine and requested permission to do so. Giseburo,
Mariyama, Kimura, and Aoki saw him go and accused him of going
to get rid of stolen items. They stood him at attention and beat
him on and off until about 2200. Turner was hospitalized for
about three days as a result of this beating. I saw Lt. Namba
walk by the place where Turner was being beaten and leave the
In or about April of 1945, Hookum, Chief, U.S. Navy was beaten
severely and confined to the brig for about seven days, because,
as he had been caught eating raw beans at the dock. I only witnessed
about fifteen minutes of this beating as my detail was moved
into the building but all three men were black and blues and
their faces were badly marred when it was finished. In this beating
Kimura used his fists, Ikeda used his belt, and Tsuda used a
On or about June 12, 1945 a shakedown of the billet was conducted
by Lt. Namba and his camp staff, during which they found some
charcoal burners, some raw beans, and evidence of raw beans being
parched in the billeting spaces. This discovery was confined
to one section of the billet occupied by U.S. Army prisoners,
Each man in this section was called out and stood at attention.
There was about 48 or 50 of them. Immediately after they were
called out all the members of the camp staff except Lt. Namba
and Sgt. Major Taya came out into the yard armed with various
weapons ranging from scoop shovels to belts and bare hands and
began a mass besting of the prisoners. This beating lasted throughout
the day and many of the prisoners required medical attention
when it was over. At this time it was common to see Prisoners
of War about the barracks and on the job whose face was so beaten
up they were unrecognizable.
On or about July 10, 1945, one Charles Tramposh, Corporal, USMC
was badly beaten by Kimura, Ikeda, and Tsuda. Tramposh had been
badly wounded on Wake Island, one bullet passing through the
intestines and injuring the muscles on one side so that his intestines
hung over to that side. He had been working throughout his internment
as a medical assistant in the hospital. On this particular day
Tramposh had completed his hospital duties and had gone to the
cobbler shop where he was sitting down reading and talking to
the men that worked in the cobbler shop. Kimura walked into the
shop. Tramposh did not see Kimura come in and, therefore, did
not Immediately jump to attention and bow to Kimura. Tramposh
was taken before Lt. Namba and charged with a "Bad Attitude"
by Lt. Namba, then taken down to the lower part of the Japanese
office and beaten up. Kimura used his fists, Ikeda used his belt,
and Tsuda used a stick. Tramposh was so badly beaten his eyes
were both completely closed, and his mouth so badly busted he
could eat nothing but soup for about one week. I did not see
this beating but saw him that night when he told ne about it.
As a result of this incident Lt. Namba made Tramposh go out on
the job and work. His condition was against this, but the fact
that he was not completely cured from wounds received in battle
did not deter Lt. Namba.
Zemo Tarnowski and Corporal Martin, USMC, who acted as camp interpreter,
were beaten and slapped many times during our stay in this camp.
The only charges against them being that they had a bad
attitude" which was Lt. Namba's common charge against a
Prisoner of War. Zemo Tarnowski was American Camp Commander over
the Umeda men and did all he could to get better food and quarters
for us. As a direct result of these actions of his, he was beaten
by every member of Lt. Namba's staff except Sgt. Major Taya,
who never touched a Prisoner of War to my knowledge. Corporal
Martin received his beatings because he always acted as Zemo's
interpreter. Zemo was known by the nickname of "Ski"
by both Americans and Japanese in this camp.
Many instances of mass punishment occurred in this camp by Lt.
Namba's staff. These were mostly at morning and evening muster.
We would be punished for little or no reason, deprived of meals,
given extra work, and be slapped around during these punishments.
I have seen Lt. Namba watching these mass punishments many times.
He made no effort to stop them and seemed to approve them.
Living conditions at this camp were very poor. The food, while
not as bad as at previous camps, was still not sufficient and
with the aid of Bunzo Kimura, a civilian interpreter and Sgt.
Taya, we were allowed to steal large quantities of soy beans
on the job and haul them into the camp to cook with our rice
and soup. Fish was issued once a week, this being our first regular
The barracks that we first moved into was very crowded. There
[were] 504 men in this camp and the building would not have given
adequate housing to more than 150. We could not stand upright
on our bunk spaces and there was not floor room enough for all
men to stand at one time. We had no bathing facilities whatsoever
and all our water had to be gotten from one artesian well which
had been driven with a one inch pipe. It took about five minutes
to obtain a bucket of water from this well. The latrines were
between two wings of the building and would accommodate only
about 12 men at a time. Inasmuch as we were eating soy beans
mild dysentery was rampant in camp and the receptacles beneath
the latrines would not last the night. Each morning the floor
space of the latrine was flooded.
On the evening of July 12, 1945 and the morning of the 13th we
were burned out by an incendiary raid. We were not allowed to
move from our bunk spaces until many hits had been registered
on the building and it was blazing from all parts. As soon as
we were allowed out of the building we had to go to work and
remove our food supplies from the storehouse which was located
on one side of the building. During the time we were moving our
supplies the bombs were falling all around us. In spite of this
we had very few casualties. One man, G.H. Thomas, U.S. Army,
[Thomas, George H, PFC, 14056713US Army Signal Corp] lost two
fingers of his right hand. A few men were burned but nothing
serious enough to cause disablement. The day after this raid,the
13th of July 1945 we were moved into a warehouse on the docks.
This warehouse had a dirt floor, and the roof leaked all over.
The floor was damp and we had to place our bunks on this damp
earth and so close together we could not walk between them. Sgt.
Taya attempted to have us moved to a safer place buy Lt. Namba
would not allow this. We had to pack water from our old barracks
area which was about 200 yards from this warehouse. We had no
latrines whatsoever and had to use the edge of the dock as a
latrine. Many men became sick from sleeping on the damp ground.
Our rations were cut to about one-half of the previous amount
and all we had for our noon meal was boiled wheat. Sgt. Taya
attempted many times to have us moved to a building about five
miles from the dock area but Lt. Namba would not allow this as
we would have to come to work by train.
On the 31st of July 1945 we were again the target for an American
air raid, this time by fighters and dive bombers. No Americans
were injured in this raid but our warehouse barracks was completely
demolished. We were then moved to a building which about 50 of
our men had been working on since the raid of the 13th of July.
[Tsuruga] It was part of an old brick factory about two miles
out through town and was located directly alongside the Toyo
Cotton Mills. These mills were bombed on the 8th of August 1945
and debris fell all over our camp. This building we were moved
into had no roof other than bark and only slats for walls. It
could not be called a barracks but would be better termed as
a "Pig Sty". There was no water other than one well
about 50 yards from the building and we could not drink the water
from it, but had to bring our drinking water from our first camp.
The latrine was a shallow trench some twenty feet long with a
board floor and a long slot down the center of the floor. The
building where we were housed was about 130 feet long and 40
feet wide and had three and four bunk tiers in it. Each man had
only room enough to lay down. It was raining quite often and
our building was always wet. Two men, Corporal Allen, USMC, [Allen,
Arthur Leroy, Cpl, 286712, 4th Marines Service Co] and one E.C.
Holt, U.S. Navy, [Holt Elmer Clarence, AMM1c, 3599862] contracted
consumption while we were in this building. We remained in it
until the war was over.
Working conditions at Tsuruga were long hours and heavy work,
unloading ships and loading boxcars. We were forced to handle
a shipload of guns and ammunition and another ship load of bombs.
We loaded war materials and machinery into the ships after they
were unloaded of the cargo they brought to Tsuruga. Most of the
ships' cargoes were soy beans, salt, coal and pig iron. Our hours
we from about 6:30 to 7:00 in the morning until dark. We never
had any regular days off but were only allowed a rest day when
there was no work. This was very seldom. I only had about three
days off during my entire stay in this camp.
Lt. Namba personally ordered us to work unloading the bombs and
ammunition. Lt. Namba was at all times well aware of the bad
food, bad sanitary conditions and poor quarters accommodations.
The American Prisoner of War Officials made numerous protests
about these conditions but Lt. Namba ignored their protests and
at all times ordered those prisoners of war making the protest
beaten. Lt. Namba was also personally responsible for the men
being forced to work, as, before a sick Prisoner of War was allowed
to stay in camp it had to be approved by Lt. Namba, and only
in those cases where the man had an extremely high temperature
was he allowed to stay in camp. None of the buildings we occupied
as quarters were marked as Prisoner of War camps and that was
why our camp was bombed. Captain Nell (phonetic) U.S. Army Medical
Corps [Nell, Edward R., Capt, O&366913] and Zemo Tarnowski
and other Americans protested to Lt. Namba about the absence
of markings and the locating of the Prisoner of War quarters
near military objectives but no heed was paid by Lt. Namba to
I have seen Motoo Namba at Sugamo Prison, Tokyo, Japan and identified
him as the camp commander I have referred to in the foregoing
statement as the Japanese Lt. known to the Prisoners of War under
him as "The Pig" at Umeda Bunsho and Tsuruga.
This affidavit was prepared by me personally and is true in all
/s/ Jesse L. Stewart
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 30th day of January 1947.
/s/ John R. Pritchard
City of Tokyo
Island of Honshu, Japan